home
RSS
May 10th, 2010
10:57 AM ET

The disk that ruined Tiger’s game

By Madison Park
CNNhealth.com writer/producer

A neck injury has tamed the Tiger.

Golfer Tiger Woods pulled out of the final round of the Players Championship at Sawgrass on Sunday because of what he called “a bulging disk.”

Woods said the pain began before the Masters tournament last month.

Disks are like cushions between the vertebrae in the spine, that act like “miniature jelly doughnuts” and fit “exactly the right size to fit between your vertebrae,” according to the Mayo Clinic’s explanation. A bulging disk means that it is extending beyond the space it should occupy. These types of injuries can occur because of age-related wear and tear on the spine.

Mayo Clinic.com: Herniated disk vs. bulging disk: What's the difference?

Some bulging disks cause little to no pain, but not for Woods.

"I'm having a hard time with the pain," Woods said in a press conference Sunday.

"There's tingling down my fingers, just the right side. Setting up over the ball is fine but once I start making the motion, it's downhill from there." CNN.com: Injury forces Woods out of Players

The treatment of a painful disk may include rest, rest, pain medications, physical therapy, cortisone injections, therapy and surgery. Read more on disk injuries.

Editor's Note: Medical news is a popular but sensitive subject rooted in science. We receive many comments on this blog each day; not all are posted. Our hope is that much will be learned from the sharing of useful information and personal experiences based on the medical and health topics of the blog. We encourage you to focus your comments on those medical and health topics and we appreciate your input. Thank you for your participation.


March 15th, 2010
05:00 PM ET

Hip fractures more deadly to men

By Saundra Young
CNN Medical Senior Producer

Editor's note: In a previous version of this post, the form of zoledronic acid that reduced death rates by 28 percent over a three-year period was inaccurately identified. The correct form of the drug is Reclast

Hip fractures. They're breaks in the upper part of the femur or thigh bone, most often caused by a fall. People 65 and older are most vulnerable, and according to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, women have two to three times as many fractures as men. But a new study in the Annals of Internal Medicine says men are at greater risk of dying because of it.

Hip fractures are more deadly for men.

Hip fractures are more deadly for men.

Researchers looked at 39 studies involving nearly 600,000 women and 155,000 men over the age of 50, with hip fracture. They found that while older women are nearly six times more likely to die after a fracture than a woman without a break, older men are about eight times as likely to die in the first three months after their injury.

"Hip fractures are associated with a substantially increased risk of death for both men and women which lasts for at least 10 years after the fracture," said Dr. Cathleen Colon-Emeric, one of the study authors at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina. "This highlights the importance of interventions which reduce operative complications and the physical decline that frequently results from a hip fracture."

Researchers are not quite sure why the risk of death increases. But Colon-Emeric says hip fracture is a major blow to your body. "People with hip fractures tend to be more frail. Many have underlying medical problems that put them at higher risk of death, like stroke, Parkinson's disease and dementia."

Earlier studies found that after a hip fracture men are more likely than women to die of infectious conditions such as sepsis and pneumonia.

Only 25 percent of these fractures occur in men. Dr. Jay Magaziner, chairman of the Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Maryland in Baltimore, and a study co-author, says if you project forward to 2050, there will be as many hip fractures in men as there are currently in women today. "We know that men who fracture their hip are generally a bit sicker. They have more medical conditions at the time of their fracture than women. One of the reasons that we believe that is the case, is the natural process of aging post-menopausally in women."

Magaziner says the combination of falling and weak bones will create a hip fracture. He says women lose a little bit of bone each year after menopause, but men don't lose bone naturally. In fact, in order for men to lose enough bone to have a break when they fall, they generally have to have an underlying medical condition. "Women who fracture don't have these other medical problems, so that may be one of the reasons that we're seeing a higher mortality rate in men than women."

Dr. Sandra Fryhofer, an Atlanta, Georgia, internist and past president of the American College of Physicians, says the study is a wake-up call that men can get osteoporosis too. "It stresses the importance of prevention, making sure people are getting calcium, vitamin D and weight-bearing exercises like walking. Anything that puts weight on the bones, because that stimulates new bone formation."

Because men have not received a lot of attention on hip fracture and osteoporosis, Magaziner is working on new research to try to better understand the disparities. "If we can understand the differences in the way men and women respond to having a hip fracture then we can tailor our treatments to these differences and the way people recover," he said. "We want to individualize the way we treat patients."

Colon-Emeric says one treatment has proved to reduce mortality after fracture, an osteoporosis drug zoledronic acid or Reclast. It's made by pharmaceutical giant Novartis and new data show it reduced death rates by 28 percent over a three-year period. It's given once a year intravenously in a doctor’s office and it reduced the chance of additional fractures by 20 percent in a two-year period. Promising, because statistics show one in five will re-fracture their hip.

Editor's Note: Medical news is a popular but sensitive subject rooted in science. We receive many comments on this blog each day; not all are posted. Our hope is that much will be learned from the sharing of useful information and personal experiences based on the medical and health topics of the blog. We encourage you to focus your comments on those medical and health topics and we appreciate your input. Thank you for your participation.


March 10th, 2010
07:00 AM ET

A 'silent epidemic' for teenage sports injuries

By Madison Park
CNNhealth.com Writer/Producer

Teenage athletes who play in multiple leagues and participate in sports year-round tend to overuse the same muscles and joints. The overuse could lead to serious injuries such as dislocated shoulders, torn anterior cruciate ligaments and ligaments usually seen more often in adults, said Dr. Thomas DeBerardino, an associate professor of orthopaedics at the University of Connecticut Health Center.

DeBerardino will moderate a session at the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons conference in New Orleans, Louisiana, this week about adolescent sports injuries.

Calling the wave of injuries a “silent epidemic,” he said he sees three major areas of injuries- head, neck and knees. Some young players play on year-round schedules and with several teams.

“If you’re on multiple teams, that is detrimental to the overall health of their kids’ shoulders and knees,” he said. “It comes down to being overscheduled. Along with being overscheduled, they’re overexposed and potentially injured.

“They never have a break. This increases risk of overuse and the adult-type injuries like stress and ligament injuries.”

One example DeBerardino cited is youth baseball. Young pitchers could end up racking high pitch counts in each of their various leagues and increase their risk for elbow and shoulder injuries.

His advice to teen athletes is simple: Learn to listen to your body.

“Each kid and body is different,” he said.  “Everyone has a different thresh point.  You get an injury if you’re over-fatigued, you’re doing too much and you don’t have enough of a recovery period.  Each parent and person responsible for the kid needs to pay attention.  You don’t have to examine the kid. Ask them if they feel overwhelmed, over-challenged.  When you need a break, you need a break.”

And the reality is not every kid is going to be a Zack Greinke.

Editor's Note: Medical news is a popular but sensitive subject rooted in science. We receive many comments on this blog each day; not all are posted. Our hope is that much will be learned from the sharing of useful information and personal experiences based on the medical and health topics of the blog. We encourage you to focus your comments on those medical and health topics and we appreciate your input. Thank you for your participation.


February 10th, 2010
01:29 PM ET

Snow, snow...too much snow

By Val Willingham
CNN Medical Producer

It’s snowing where I live. No, I mean really snowing. I’ve resided off and on in the Washington, D.C. area for fifty years, and I have never seen this much snow in one week. Even the blizzard of '96 didn't dump this much white stuff so quickly.

Yet for many, this kind of weather is a winter wonderland; a time for getting out and building snow people, skating, skiing, even tubing. But in order to get out, you have to dig out. And that’s the challenge.

For years I have suffered from back pain. Ruptured discs can do that to you. So when it comes to shoveling snow, that chore falls on my husband’s shoulders (and his back and legs too).

But there has been so much snow the last few days - I couldn’t just let him do it on his own. I had to help. He didn’t want me to. But I insisted. Not a good idea.

I now have back pain again. And doctors will tell you, even if you don’t have a history of back pain, you can injure your glutes and other muscles very quickly by lifting and shoveling snow incorrectly.

According to the U.S Consumer Product Safety Commission, on the average, more than 120,000 people are treated for injuries suffered from snow and ice removal every year. Most problems are muscular– back pain, shoulder pulls. But many people slip and fall and injure themselves on the ice.

So the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) is trying to get the word out that people need to take proper health and safety precautions when shoveling snow.

First off, the AAOS says, be prepared. Doctors warn if you are out of shape, go easy on scooping up snow. It’s heavy and can strain your whole body as well as your heart. If you’ve been a couch potato all winter, you might want to pay a local teen to shovel you out. And once the snow clears, get moving, so next time Ol' Man Winter strikes, you’ll be ready.

Wear the right clothing. Keep warm - put on heavy socks, a hat and gloves. When you get cold, take a break. And wear boots that are slip resistant because ice goes hand in hand with snow. You never know where it may be hiding.

And prepare your body: Before going out to sling flakes, warm up with light exercise. About ten minutes will do it. Stretch the muscles to help them stay limber. Once you get outside, don’t overload the shovel. Dig with your knees, not your back (which was my problem). Picking snow up with your knees avoids strain on the back muscles. If the snow is too heavy, push it rather than lift it. And don’t throw snow over your shoulder. That can twist your back out.

But most importantly, try not to overdo it. Moderation is the key. Shovel a little at a time. It may take you longer to dig out, but once you do your back will thank you for not rushing it.

Do you have a tip on how to stay healthy during the winter months? We’d like to hear about it.

Editor's Note: Medical news is a popular but sensitive subject rooted in science. We receive many comments on this blog each day; not all are posted. Our hope is that much will be learned from the sharing of useful information and personal experiences based on the medical and health topics of the blog. We encourage you to focus your comments on those medical and health topics and we appreciate your input. Thank you for your participation.


February 9th, 2009
12:10 PM ET

Ohhh my aching feet!

By Karen Denice
CNN Senior Medical Producer

Another day, another training walk and my feet are feeling the pain. I’m training for a half-marathon walk and even though I know walking is good for my health, I also figured it would be pretty easy on my body. However, I did not check in with my feet before making this assumption. Granted I like to call my feet “special”: I overpronate, have flat arches and bunions – special.

Still, walking with good shoes and, for me, shoe inserts should normally do the trick. But the foot is a complicated specimen with 26 bones, 33 joints and over 100 ligaments, tendons and muscles. The list is long as to what can cause foot pain - from plantar fasciitis and tendinitis to toenail injuries - and experts warn not to put up with foot pain – see a health professional.

But first you may want to try these tips to see if they cure the hurt. Wear socks that wick away moisture to reduce blisters. Always stretch legs and feet before activity and try to make stretching at the end of your day a habit as well. Also, consider the terrain you’re walking on – choose trails rather than pavement. This should cut down on stress to your joints which can lead to arch and heel pain. Avoid walking barefoot. Experts say this can leave your feet more susceptible to injury and infection.

I’ve tried nearly all of the above tips, and will probably be heading to a foot specialist myself if this discomfort continues.
Do you have foot pain when you walk? What do you do to cure the ache? We want to hear from you.

Editor's Note: Medical news is a popular but sensitive subject rooted in science. We receive many comments on this blog each day; not all are posted. Our hope is that much will be learned from the sharing of useful information and personal experiences based on the medical and health topics of the blog. We encourage you to focus your comments on those medical and health topics and we appreciate your input. Thank you for your participation.


August 21st, 2008
01:40 PM ET

Tiger Woods: Will the swing return?

By Dr. Sanjay Gupta
CNN Chief Medical Correspondent

Every year in the United States, there are around 200,000 ACL injuries a year. As you might guess, they are most common in soccer, football and basketball. So, when you heard about Tiger Woods golf injury, you may have been a little surprised. In fact, he has had four knee operations since 1994, with the most serious one being on June 24th of this year. As you watch this video, pay close attention to the left knee and the amount of torque that is placed on it. There is a pivot like motion that orthopedic surgeons seem to believe caused the problem.

The operation itself is a fairly straightforward one but now the name of Tiger’s game is rehab.

Woods tell us in his blog that he is more mobile than a month ago, and that he spends most of his rehab time riding a stationary bike. It sounds like he would look a lot different as well. He says he has lost 10 pounds of muscle and is mainly eating a raw and organic diet. The kicker is that he is not even planning on swinging a golf club until next year. That’s quite a change of lifestyle for someone who has played golf for almost his whole life.

When Tiger does come back, he may have a different swing than the one he has now. He may not be able to generate the same amount of force and may not have the same pivot that we are so accustomed to seeing. If you had to assign a number to it, between 82 -95% of athletes do make a recovery. (watch my report)

Have you ever had knee surgery, arthroscopic or a ligament repair? What was the most challenging part of rehabilitation? Did you ever get back to full function?

Editor's Note: Medical news is a popular but sensitive subject rooted in science. We receive many comments on this blog each day; not all are posted. Our hope is that much will be learned from the sharing of useful information and personal experiences based on the medical and health topics of the blog. We encourage you to focus your comments on those medical and health topics and we appreciate your input. Thank you for your participation.


April 16th, 2008
10:41 AM ET

Tiger Woods in surgery

by Dr. Sanjay Gupta
Chief Medical Correspondent

Tiger Woods had arthroscopic knee surgery yesterday. You may be surprised to know that it was his third operation on his left knee. The first was done in 1994 for a benign tumor and the second was done in 2002, to remove a cyst and drain fluid from around one of his ligaments. Yesterday's surgery was to correct cartilage damage. Now Tiger will undergo a few weeks of rehabilitation and stay off the golf course for 4 – 6 weeks, according to his website.

Couple of things I learned that I wanted to share. First, watch this video of Tiger's swing.  (Watch Video)  Tiger Woods is a right handed golfer and as a result, he places a lot of pressure on his left knee. He has a particularly aggressive move through the swing and the left knee absorbs a lot of that strain. So, even at the young age of 32, Woods has already had significant wear and tear on his knees.

The second thing I saw was a study from the New England Journal of Medicine.  I have attached it here if you want to read it (See Study), but let me summarize. They had three groups of patients under the age of 75, who all had knee pain and osteoarthritis. One group received arthroscopic removal of cartilage, another group had arthroscopic surgery where the knee joint was flushed with an irrigation fluid and the third group simply had incisions on their knee with no actual operation. Here is the amazing thing: the groups who had surgery did no better or worse than those who did not.

I was wondering what you thought of this study. Is this a "placebo" effect or do you think the operations were just not as effective as once thought?..

Editor’s Note: Medical news is a popular but sensitive subject rooted in science. We receive many comments on this blog each day; not all are posted. Our hope is that much will be learned from the sharing of useful information and personal experiences based on the medical and health topics of the blog. We encourage you to focus your comments on those medical and health topics and we appreciate your input. Thank you for your participation. 


« newer posts
Advertisement
About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.

Advertisement
Advertisement